Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Wolf In Autumn

Here comes a preview of another horror game I bought in the Halloween sale (I’m playing them! They’re escaping the backlog!). A Wolf in Autumn, by David Szymanski, known for his short first-person, puzzle-solving, story-driven games that always have an underlying sense that something just isn’t right.

Though A Wolf in Autumn is an experience meant to be enjoyed in one sitting, it was late and I became stuck on a puzzle without enough caffeine to get me through. Nevertheless, here is a preview of my experience so far, having played about 30-45 minutes of the game.

It began slowly, as I got to grips with the beautifully auburn world around me, trying to figure out what each object meant in relation to the puzzles that I found. It wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, but that would kind of defeat the purpose of a puzzle, wouldn’t it? The entire time I was doing this, I felt like I was being watched through the gaps in the wooden fence of the enclosure where I found myself. This wasn’t helped by the messages from someone that went from motherly to murder-y as I continued to betray her orders to “stay in my shed”, or the occasional wolf howl from somewhere too close for comfort when I was solving puzzles.

Just like all of the Szymanski games I have played, A Wolf In Autumn excels at keeping a steady level of tension throughout. You’re never going to be frantically running away from something trying to flay you, or anything quite so over-the-top, but you will always be looking behind you, sure that this is the time you’ll see something waiting for you. This is further emphasised by the fact that the protagonist only has one hand, meaning that interacting with objects normally means putting something down. In my case, this was often a torch, which left me in almost complete darkness in the bunker underneath the autumn woods. That’s never fun.

As A Wolf in Autumn isn’t that long, I’d hate to tell you too much more, and ruin the entire experience crafted by Szymanski, but I will say this: you want this game. The narrative slowly reveals itself, the puzzles are challenging, and there’s an ever-present sense of dread that this developer does so well. At only £1.59 on Steam, the game is a steal, and is money well spent if you’re looking for a short, tense and immersive game one afternoon. Why not make it this afternoon?

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